Q&A with NC State Head Coach Elliott Avent

PinstripesPlus.com caught up with North Carolina State Head Coach Elliott Avent to get his thoughts on how Andrew Brackman will fit in at the professional level, where he thinks he needs to improve, what kind of upside he thinks he has, and more.

PinstripesPlus.com: As his college coach, you saw him more than anybody. What did you see from him stuff-wise this year?

Coach Avent: I've seen him for three years and his stuff is unbelievable. The game he pitched down in Coastal Carolina, and they were one of the best teams in the country this year, he was electric. He was as good as any college pitcher I've ever seen or coached. Coach Holiday has been around for 30 years and he said it might have been one of the best pitched games, other than when Roger Clemens pitched against them in the [College] World Series when he was at Oklahoma State. He was quite impressive that day. He was impressive at times for three years here. It was hard for him to get any consistency. Actually as a freshman he was real consistent. I remember he pitched a 2-1 game against Miami in the ACC Tournament and it too was one of the best games I've ever seen anybody pitch. His sophomore year he was plagued by a hip injury that he had gotten in basketball, so he wasn't able to be as consistent as he wanted. This year he was bothered by some inflammation in his arm that just didn't feel right. Who knows if it stemmed from the hip injury a year ago or not. I think it is an old injury and I think it plagued him at times this year. At times though, he was very special.

PinstripesPlus: Playing both basketball and baseball, do you think him playing two sports hurt his consistency since he wasn't able to focus on just one sport?

Coach Avent: No I really don't think so. His freshman year, every start after basketball, almost immediately, was unbelievable. He never dipped off. The only time I saw any inconsistencies in his pitching performance was after the injury in basketball. I've got to feel that the injuries that plagued him had to contribute to the inconsistencies on the mound, this year as well as last year.

PinstripesPlus: Some people are going to look at the Yankees' selection of Andrew Brackman as a great pick because of his stuff. Others might look at his checkered injury history and might not be as excited about the pick. Where do you see him fitting in the professional ranks and what kind of upside do you think he has?

Coach Avent: It was interesting. I was listening to John Kruk and the guys on ESPN Tonight a couple of nights ago. I was telling Andrew, they were talking about the tall pitchers in the game and what makes them so good. They were talking to Dusty Baker and they were showing guys from Chris Young to Randy Johnson, and their deliveries. This is a special guy. He's going to come at you a little closer than most people and I think once he gets healthy, if he can improve his breaking stuff, cleans up his mechanics a little bit and gets a little more deception, I think this guy has the chance to be very, very special at the Major League level. I think all the Yankees fans across the country, which I am included, should be very excited right now.

PinstripesPlus: Well you touched on it. Talk about his stuff specifically. What is his best pitch, what does he need to work on the most?

Coach Avent: He came from Ohio with a great fastball and a knuckle-curveball. Every hitter in high school was swinging at it because you're geared up for that fastball and this knuckle-curve comes in and just disappears. He got a lot of strikeouts his freshman year on the knuckle-curve. He would get ahead of hitters with the fastball, they'd take it, and he'd put them away with his knuckle-curve. He was a little inconsistent with the knuckle-curve as far as control, so he developed a breaking ball while he was here. At times it was a dominant breaking ball, but it's not very consistent. He can throw it for strikes but he doesn't put people away with it. He worked on a changeup that he used a lot against left-handed hitters that he pretty much perfected in the Fall, but then he kind of went away from it this Spring. He didn't use it nearly as much as we thought he should. I think he's going to continue to work on the changeup. I think in professional baseball they're going to scrap the knuckle-curve, probably scrap the breaking ball, and teach him a slider. I have a feeling he's going to be dominant for years to come in the Yankees organization.

PinstripesPlus: Stuff aside, what would you say is his great asset as a pitcher?

Coach Avent: His greatest asset is his competitive spirit, his competitive nature. He's extremely competitive. Maybe that carries over from basketball. But if you put that guy on a basketball court or you put him on the mound, and he's extremely competitive.

PinstripesPlus: What aspect of his game do you think he needs to improve on the most?

Coach Avent: Probably holding runners. He's such a good athlete that I think the Yankees fans, the one shock they're going to have is seeing how a 6-foot-11 or 7-foot guy can be such a good athlete. He's not easy to bunt on, but he's going to have work on holding runners. That's the thing he is going to have to work on the most as he progresses through the farm system.

PinstripesPlus: He kind of has the reputation of being a quiet kid, one that doesn't like to talk about himself. Do you think that type of characteristic could be a detriment to him playing in New York?

Coach Avent: He's not shy at all, really. He's quite a clown to be quite honest with you. He's one of the biggest comics on the team as far as cutting up, or on the road trip buying things and playing tricks on people and having fun. He's quite the team clown. I think not talking about stuff is he's such a team player. He doesn't like the attention focused on himself. He likes the attention more focused on the team, so I think he's going to be fine in New York. He's going to fit in nicely as he makes his way into Yankee Stadium.

PinstripesPlus: What do you see from his in his professional career? He has such electric stuff that it's been said he could be a great closer or a great starter. Where do you see him?

Coach Avent: I see him in the front of a rotation. I see him as Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling - I see him as one of those guys.

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Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: As his college coach, you saw him more than anybody. What did you see from him stuff-wise this year?
\r\n
\r\nCoach Avent: I've seen him for three years and his stuff is unbelievable. The game he pitched down in Coastal Carolina, and they were one of the best teams in the country this year, he was electric. He was as good as any college pitcher I've ever seen or coached. Coach Holiday has been around for 30 years and he said it might have been one of the best pitched games, other than when Roger Clemens pitched against them in the [College] World Series when he was at Oklahoma State. He was quite impressive that day. He was impressive at times for three years here. It was hard for him to get any consistency. Actually as a freshman he was real consistent. I remember he pitched a 2-1 game against Miami in the ACC Tournament and it too was one of the best games I've ever seen anybody pitch. His sophomore year he was plagued by a hip injury that he had gotten in basketball, so he wasn't able to be as consistent as he wanted. This year he was bothered by some inflammation in his arm that just didn't feel right. Who knows if it stemmed from the hip injury a year ago or not. I think it is an old injury and I think it plagued him at times this year. At times though, he was very special.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Playing both basketball and baseball, do you think him playing two sports hurt his consistency since he wasn't able to focus on just one sport?
\r\n
\r\nCoach Avent: No I really don't think so. His freshman year, every start after basketball, almost immediately, was unbelievable. He never dipped off. The only time I saw any inconsistencies in his pitching performance was after the injury in basketball. I've got to feel that the injuries that plagued him had to contribute to the inconsistencies on the mound, this year as well as last year.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Some people are going to look at the Yankees' selection of Andrew Brackman as a great pick because of his stuff. Others might look at his checkered injury history and might not be as excited about the pick. Where do you see him fitting in the professional ranks and what kind of upside do you think he has?
\r\n
\r\nCoach Avent: It was interesting. I was listening to John Kruk and the guys on ESPN Tonight a couple of nights ago. I was telling Andrew, they were talking about the tall pitchers in the game and what makes them so good. They were talking to Dusty Baker and they were showing guys from Chris Young to Randy Johnson, and their deliveries. This is a special guy. He's going to come at you a little closer than most people and I think once he gets healthy, if he can improve his breaking stuff, cleans up his mechanics a little bit and gets a little more deception, I think this guy has the chance to be very, very special at the Major League level. I think all the Yankees fans across the country, which I am included, should be very excited right now.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Well you touched on it. Talk about his stuff specifically. What is his best pitch, what does he need to work on the most?
\r\n
\r\nCoach Avent: He came from Ohio with a great fastball and a knuckle-curveball. Every hitter in high school was swinging at it because you're geared up for that fastball and this knuckle-curve comes in and just disappears. He got a lot of strikeouts his freshman year on the knuckle-curve. He would get ahead of hitters with the fastball, they'd take it, and he'd put them away with his knuckle-curve. He was a little inconsistent with the knuckle-curve as far as control, so he developed a breaking ball while he was here. At times it was a dominant breaking ball, but it's not very consistent. He can throw it for strikes but he doesn't put people away with it. He worked on a changeup that he used a lot against left-handed hitters that he pretty much perfected in the Fall, but then he kind of went away from it this Spring. He didn't use it nearly as much as we thought he should. I think he's going to continue to work on the changeup. I think in professional baseball they're going to scrap the knuckle-curve, probably scrap the breaking ball, and teach him a slider. I have a feeling he's going to be dominant for years to come in the Yankees organization.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Stuff aside, what would you say is his great asset as a pitcher?
\r\n
\r\nCoach Avent: His greatest asset is his competitive spirit, his competitive nature. He's extremely competitive. Maybe that carries over from basketball. But if you put that guy on a basketball court or you put him on the mound, and he's extremely competitive.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: What aspect of his game do you think he needs to improve on the most?
\r\n
\r\nCoach Avent: Probably holding runners. He's such a good athlete that I think the Yankees fans, the one shock they're going to have is seeing how a 6-foot-11 or 7-foot guy can be such a good athlete. He's not easy to bunt on, but he's going to have work on holding runners. That's the thing he is going to have to work on the most as he progresses through the farm system.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: He kind of has the reputation of being a quiet kid, one that doesn't like to talk about himself. Do you think that type of characteristic could be a detriment to him playing in New York?
\r\n
\r\nCoach Avent: He's not shy at all, really. He's quite a clown to be quite honest with you. He's one of the biggest comics on the team as far as cutting up, or on the road trip buying things and playing tricks on people and having fun. He's quite the team clown. I think not talking about stuff is he's such a team player. He doesn't like the attention focused on himself. He likes the attention more focused on the team, so I think he's going to be fine in New York. He's going to fit in nicely as he makes his way into Yankee Stadium.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: What do you see from his in his professional career? He has such electric stuff that it's been said he could be a great closer or a great starter. Where do you see him?
\r\n
\r\nCoach Avent: I see him in the front of a rotation. I see him as Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling - I see him as one of those guys.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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\r\n

\r\n

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